Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Role Playing with the American Revolution {Freebies Included}!

Social studies has always been one of my absolute favorite subjects to teach. I get so excited about United States history, and I do my best to make a potentially boring topic come alive for my students! There are a lot of opportunities for hands-on, get out of your seat lessons and projects in the classroom (especially on those hot and extra wiggly days)!

So, on this particular day, I decided to throw out my original lesson, and get my students up and moving instead for one of my favorite lessons, The King's M & M's (or our version of it at least)! This lesson is not my original idea, but it is most definitely one of my all-time favorites!

The object of the activity is to get students to understand why American colonists were upset with British tax laws, like the Stamp Act, after the French and Indian War. The activity will also help students understand the idea of Taxation Without Representation. Since this activity involves role play, students will have the opportunity to simulate a scenario of what happened when the colonists were being taxed by Great Britain. It definitely gives them a better understanding of what the colonists felt during that time.

Here's what you need to do to prep for the activity:

{Side note: Since this was not a planned lesson, of course I forgot my nice camera and had to use my phone, and I scribbled all the role card signs together during my lunch break. It's what we do, right?! I have made some prettier signs for you all to use, and you can grab all of the freebies at the bottom of this post!}

1.) Choose one person to be the King.

2.) Choose two people as parliament members/tax collectors. 

3.) Print out the role cards/signs that say King and Tax Collectors. Hole punch them, and tie string around the signs for students to wear the signs around their necks.

4.) Print and cut out the tax cards.

5.) Give each student a paper plate (or cup!) with 10 pieces of candy, and instruct students not to touch them. 

Luckily, I had some red plastic cups in a cupboard, and a huge batch of gumdrops from a science experiment we did the week before! ;) 

Before you start the activity, you may want to pull your King and tax collectors to the side and explain their roles:

When the tax collectors go around the room to collect the candy pieces, I typically divide the room in half and let each tax collector collect the candy from their side of the room only. I have the tax collectors collect the candy from each student in an individual cup. Then, once they collect the candy in their individual cup, they pour all of the pieces out on a plate so students can see all of the candy that accumulates throughout the activity. 

Once you have all of your materials ready, invite the King and his/her tax collectors to the front of the room. Introduce them to the class as the King and his tax collectors, and then tell the rest of your class that they are the colonists. I typically make a big fuss over the difference between the two groups.

Have the King explain to the class that he/she will be taxing everyone for various reasons. 

*The man above is actually my dad! :) He would come in to my class to help every once in awhile, and my kids adored him! What better person to play the king, right!? They all got such a kick out of it! 

Once the class is ready, the King can start reading the tax cards, and the parliament members can start collecting the taxes. Watch how upset your students get! It's kind of hilarious!

Make sure the King points out all of the tax money (or candy) that is piling up!

I typically only read about four or five tax cards. This seems to be the perfect number that leaves many students with no candy pieces, and some students with just two or three of their original candy pieces. 

Once all of the taxes have been collected, have the King tell the colonists that the tax money now needs to be dispersed! For their work, each of the tax collectors will get 10% of the tax money (or candy), and the King will get the rest for him/herself. Now your students will probably go bonkers! Typically my students show some definite feelings of displeasure, and the students that are the King and parliament start gloating a bit. 

At this crucial point in the lesson (and to calm them all down!), I talk to students and get them to understand how the colonists reacted to the tax collectors and the various tax laws from the different acts. In small groups, I had students discuss these questions:

It's amazing how many lightbulbs go off during this activity, and how many big smiles will be plastered on their faces! 

Then, to finish out the activity, I found this awesome video on TeacherTube called, Too Late to Apologize - King George

The video is hilarious, educational, and very relevant. Your students will love it! Mine even shared with me that as soon as they went home, they got online to watch it and show all of their family members! Score! And of course (the most important part), hand out the leftover candy pieces for them to eat!

Side note: If your students are going to be handling food, and later eating it, make sure they use gloves or some type of utensil. Because this lesson was done last minute, I did not have gloves or utensils to use. So, we did not eat any of the candy pieces that were touched by students. Instead, since I had an abundance of gumdrops to get rid of, I opened up a new container of gum drops for the students to eat at the end of the lesson.

Click HERE to grab all of the freebies to use in your own classroom! Enjoy! 


The Wild Rumpus said...

Kristine--this video is awesome! thanks for sharing!
The Wild Rumpus 

Young Teacher Love Blog said...

Thanks!! Isn't it the best!? We have officially watched it so many times that we memorized the lyrics!

Kristen said...

Oh my word, I am so doing this next week--PERFECT timing!!! Thank you a zillion times Kristine!!!! :)

Young Teacher Love Blog said...

Haha! You are SO welcome, friend! You're fabulous ideas have helped me out way too many times!

Christine said...

I've been teaching an American Revolution Unit to my students this will be a great end of unit activity!

I was thinking about the candy hand touching issue, and all the sudden it came to me! The foil covered chocolates that look like gold coins would be perfect!

Thanks so much for sharing your creative ideas! It really helps us not so creative people!

Young Teacher Love Blog said...

@Christine- Thank you so much for your kind words! Your idea about the foil covered chocolates is great! Thank you so much for sharing! :)

*S.Udy* said...

Yes! I'm moving up to 5th grade and get to teach social studies. I'm super excited about it and this seems like a great activity and video! Thank you so much for it!

Simple Insights

Young Teacher Love Blog said...

Thanks so much for your comments! You will love 5th grade!!! :) Good luck!

Claire Badke said...

I love this idea!!!!! Thank you for sharing. Where did you find the boarders you used for "The King" and "Tax Collector" poster.

Becky said...

This is such a cute idea! I currently teach 5th grade, but here in South Carolina, the American Revolution is a 4th grade standard. There are still tons of things it would apply to for us, though. Thanks for sharing!

Natalie said...

LOVE this! Especially that video! This is perfect for our first unit. Thanks!

Teachery Tidbits

Kaitlin said...

Oh my goodness! I can't WAIT to do this with my class next week!!!! They are going to get a kick out of it!

Young Teacher Love Blog said...

Thank you so much for your comments! I hope your kids love it as much as mine do! :)

Ashley Bolton/Hanging Out WIth Miss. B said...

Used this activity this week and my students loved it. Thank you for much for sharing this.


Anonymous said...

Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you! First year teaching 5th grade S.S. and this is much appreciated!

Young Teacher Love Blog said...

You are so welcome! I hope your kids have fun!

Mrs. Mack said...

I am in love with everything about this post!

Thank you!

Young Teacher Love Blog said...

Thank you so much! :)

Anonymous said...

This was wonderful!! We did this lesson today and it went so well. Thanks for sharing! The class all walked out singing.

Young Teacher Love Blog said...

That makes me SO happy to hear! Thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

Great activity! The students really loved it and got very involved with the activity. They definitely have a much better understanding of taxation without representation!

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU Kristine! This was very helpful, and I'll be trying it tomorrow.

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